Sunday, May 10, 2015

Moving to Michigan, the preliminaries

After recovering from a nasty but short respiratory virus which changed our departure from Providence to Michigan by a day, we hit the road on Monday, April 28. It was pretty smooth sailing through the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, past Albany and onto the New York Thruway.

By late afternoon we stopped for the evening at the convenient but utterly unremarkable hotel nexus at Amherst, New York, near the State University of New York at Buffalo. While the WiFi didn’t work the room was clean — albeit very small and right off the highway. It was also incredibly cheap: 65 bucks.

The next morning we were back on the road heading for Canada. Our Subaru was literally the only
car at the crossing as we zipped across the border into Ontario. Less than 3 hours later we made a painless and easy crossing into the United States at Port Huron — ours was one of maybe five cars at the border.

By mid-afternoon we were unpacking our second round of home goods at Eagle Ridge Court in Grand Rapids. (We also brought a few things out last Christmas.)

Our time in Grand Rapids has been spent doing mainly two things: looking for places to live and helping Susan’s mom streamline her finances. Susan has tackled both tasks with gusto and has largely achieved the latter. I’ve spent much of my time cooking or renewing my work on the men of the 3rd Michigan Infantry.

As for places to live it’s been both an enlightening and frustrating experience. While we’ve seen maybe eight or ten homes/condos, we’ve found just as many online that are sold before we can even pop by to see them. Unlike in west Providence, Grand Rapids is a seller’s market. We’re also still struggling with what kind of place we’d like to live in next — a condo or a single family home. While a definitive answer continues to elude us, we are probably leaning more to the former. It’s what we know, of course, from our present situation, but also appeals to our sense of wanting something low-maintenance.

On a (much) brighter note, Susie continues to extend her networking within the culinary world — and the food scene in Grand Rapids has come an incredibly long way in the past 20 years, that’s for sure.  She’s had discussions with the adult education coordinator at Grand Rapids Community College’s culinary program as well as a couple of venues who might be interested in partnering once the French Tarte is firmly on the ground here in western Michigan.

And speaking of good food, we’ve also been fortunate on this trip to reconnect with some old friends while sharing a tasty meal at several of the city’s newer eateries — Marco’s, The Grove, Licari’s, and Marie Catribes. Different venues but all providing wonderful service and good food. Seeing Margie, Chuck, Virginia Rose (a wonderful surprise), and Stan as well as family, however briefly, is always worth the journey to Michigan.

Virginia at Licari's

Chuckeeee at Licari's
Chuck and Virginia at Marie Catribe's
And we actually met some new folks as well: Patty and Paul from Grand Haven come to mind. If you haven’t had her chocolate yet you’re missing out on one of the finer things in life.

We did manage to scoot out to Grand Haven and walk the the pier on one of the sunnier days during our two weeks in Michigan. (The first time I walked to the end past the lighthouse was the winter of 1987-88 when we moved to Spring Lake from Virginia, when the ice created fantastic structures along the shoreline.)

We also got a chance to see Susan's Aunt Betsy. She still has one of the most incredible smiles you've ever seen -- full of life, laughter and love.

Sisters Bernice and Betsy
Otherwise our time has been spent primarily hanging out at Eagle Ridge with my mother-in-law while working on the next phase of our move back to Michigan. What to bring out next, and what to take back with us: where do we want to live, what about health care insurance (I lose that the end of May), what about . . . So much to think about. We often wonder, “Could we have planned this move better?” I think not. Change is good, painful sometimes for sure, but we just need to get on with it.

Our last fling this trip was up to Clear Bottom Lake for Mother’s Day with the Ten Have family. While we couldn't sit outside due to the steady drizzle of rain, there was lots of good food and even better company. (If you want to see more photos click here.)

Clear Bottom Lake form the cottage deck

So, we leave for Rhode Island this coming Monday midmorning, stopping overnight in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The plan, such as it is right now, will be to arrive back in Providence by mid-afternoon Tuesday and start working on the next phase of our move back to the Midwest.

I return to work on May 18 and will finish as a full time employee by the end of that week. The way things stand now, I will probably be managing the university’s image assets from a laptop remotely from home, wherever that might be. Toward that end there are a few puzzle pieces that need to fall into place before we leave Providence the end of May.

And leave we will. Stay tuned!

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